How to inspire your marketplace and attract the best clients

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Nothing is more average than the average business!

These are the businesses that work for average clients and earn average fees. These hardworking folk look to the future with apprehension, rather than excitement. Why? Because they know there’s no future in being yet another average business. It’s a constant struggle. It’s stressful.

Today, I’m going to show you how to avoid the average trap and grow a successful, inspirational business.

The inspiration premium

Whilst average businesses struggle, inspirational businesses thrive. Maybe the most famous example came from the last recession, where Apple achieved record sales and record profits. They did this, selling high priced devices, which inspired their fans to spend billions of dollars with them.

Did you notice that? Apple has fans, not customers. That’s because when you inspire your marketplace, people position you or your brand very differently in their mind. And yes, this works for small businesses, too!

Take a look at any area of your business, which you think is underperforming. Now, instead of comparing that area of your business with what your competitors are doing, I want you to set your bar massively higher.

For example:

  • If you want people to tell their friends how great your service is, provide a service that inspires word of mouth referrals. Like Disney.
  • If you want more repeat clients or customers, do something that inspires them to return. Like Apple.
  • If you want more enquiries from your newsletter, write content that inspires people to contact you. Like Evernote.

In short: Walk away from average. Embrace inspirational.

It’s easier said than done, Jim!

Yes, of course it’s easier said than done. However, it’s not that hard.

This is especially the case for small business owners. You can use your agility to make the necessary improvements, starting right now. Whether it’s Disney, Apple, Rolex or another inspirational brand, look at what they’re doing. Look at how they are inspiring their marketplace.

Learn from the best. Let them set the bar on what you expect from yourself and your business. It takes more effort, but it’s far easier than owning a business that works for average clients and average fees.

This will help you to get started: How to grow your business, with Agile Thinking.

This is a marketing message. Really. It is!

Content Marketing, copywriting, coppy, writing

In today’s post, I’m going to show you how to make your marketing so attractive, that people would miss it if it wasn’t there.

Think about it: Most of the marketing messages we receive are unwelcome. At best, they are the price we pay for being able to watch a YouTube clip or listen to a radio station. At worst, marketing messages are an unwanted, annoying intrusion.

The good news is, marketing doesn’t need to be this way.

How some brands get it right

Some of the marketing we receive is welcomed. For example, when Evernote send me their newsletter, I read it. Always. Why? Because it’s packed with tips on how to get the most value from the Evernote app, so users can organise their ideas and improve their work flow. As a daily Evernote user, these tips and ideas are of huge value to me.

Yes, I have made additional purchases because of the Evernote newsletter. However, they have never sold me anything.

Think about that for a moment. It’s extremely powerful!

Leigh inspired me to write today’s post

Earlier today I received a message from a reader. Leigh said that she reads my blog via email. The reason she got in touch is that she hadn’t had an email from me for 5 days. She wanted to make sure everything was OK. It turned out to be a problem with her new email provider. But that’s not the point.

The message behind Leigh’s email may not sound that important at first glance… but it is. It’s a powerful example of the effectiveness of content marketing.

I’ll explain why in a moment.

The best content marketing delivers value

Just like the Evernote newsletter I mentioned, the best content marketing is packed with independent value. [Note: By independent value, I mean that the content itself delivers value, independent of the reader needing to purchase anything].

When people connect with effective content marketing, they feel like they have gained something. Because of this, they welcome it in a way that’s impossible to achieve with a sales pitch.

A great way for you to get this right, is to ask yourself the following question: “If I stopped publishing my newsletter, blog posts, email marketing or social networking updates, etc., would people miss them?”

This is a marketing message. Seriously!

If you think my blog posts aren’t marketing messages, think again. Yes, I give you useful information for free, without pitching you anything, but consider this:

  • Hundreds of people email me every week, because of something they read on my blog or in the email version of the blog.
  • A subset of these great people will become clients of mine or customers of my audio program.
  • Other readers become advocates and recommend my services to their friends.
  • Some share my blog posts, helping me reach more people.

Now consider this:

Think for a moment how useful it would be for your business, if you were receiving emails and phone calls all day every day, from interested people who already knew all about you and what you do.

What next?

Provide your marketplace with useful information, not sales pitches. Make your content marketing about the reader, not about you. Help them solve their challenges with your expertise. And let people know what you can do for them [like that short message below], so they know where to come when they need expert help they can trust.

Remember… the process of giving and receiving starts with the giving part.

Read this. It will help you: How to make your Content Marketing more compelling!

How to attract more clients, using deadlines!

marketing tips

Most small business marketing lacks urgency. And it’s losing those businesses a fortune.

If you want people to take action, you need to motivate them. A proven way for you to do this, is to set a deadline.

The thing about deadlines

Deadlines focus the mind. They take something that’s interesting and make it both interesting and urgent.

It looks like this:

  • Without a deadline, people will think your offer is interesting and decide to check it out later… then forget all about it.
  • With a deadline, people will think your offer is interesting and take action now… to hire you, buy from you, email you or call you.

If you’re not including a deadline as part of your marketing mix, you’re leaving money on the table.

Bloggers: Why too few people read your blog and how to fix it!

blogging, blog tips, content marketing

This is a very important post. If you want to get more business, feedback and recognition from your blog, this could be exactly what you need to know.

The post was inspired by an email I received from Shannon. She kindly gave me permission to share part of it with you. Here’s the core challenge she wanted help with, along with my answer and lots of tips and examples to help you build a successful business blog.

Here’s what Shannon wanted to know:

“I’ve been blogging for close to three years now. It’s been frustrating to say the least! […]  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from [she mentioned a very well known blogging site] totally.  I’m just about ready to quit.  Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m missing?”

I did take a quick look at her blog and it’s exactly the same as countless other business blogs, following the same, general blogging advice.

Here’s what the challenge is and how to resolve it!

Blogging is exceptionally effective

I’ve worked in marketing since 1987 and nothing I have used, studied or witnessed, comes close to the marketing power of an effective blog. Period.

So, why has Shannon and the vast majority of business owners, seen such poor results?

Without doubt, the main reason is that blogging is often touted, incorrectly, as the written equivalent of painting by numbers. In other words, you follow a set of rules and success will follow. This myth persists because it’s repeated by well known bloggers, selling generic guides and programs on how to grow a successful business blog.

The polar opposite is actually true: The closer you follow the same general format, rules and techniques as everyone else, the less likely you are to achieve anything worthwhile from your blog.

Here’s how I created one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, using a more individual approach.

I didn’t SEO my posts

I decided to write for my readers, not Google. This gave me the freedom to express my thoughts, rather than SEO my thoughts.

Shannon’s blog posts are written using SEO software. This means they are often too long, just so she can reach her minimum SEO word count and keyword density. Posts that should be information rich and 250 words long, are filled with fluff to make them more SEO friendly. It has totally robbed her of her voice and individuality.

Google likes it. However, it reads like crap. As a result, Shannon attracts drive-by traffic, rather than client enquiries.

Tip: Read this – Stop writing for Google. Really. Stop it!

I didn’t guest blog

I focused on building my readership, by producing the most useful content I could and then made it extremely easy for people to share it.

This approach works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites.

Many bloggers waste their best material on other people’s blogs, because their blog guru convinced them it’s a great idea. It’s one way to build your readership, but certainly not the best. Or the second best. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it. She’s not alone.

Build your own platform. Put the primary value on your own turf. Don’t be someone else’s unpaid content provider.

I removed comments

It was summer 2013, when I removed the commenting feature from my blog. Blog commenting is a vestige from the days before social networks. It was also a huge time suck for me, as I often got 2500 spam comments a day.

It was still a tough decision though. The only other person I knew who’d done it was Seth Godin, and he had a very different reason. But it was the right thing to do. So I did it.

Back then, I was attacked. Social media gurus said you HAD TO have comments on your blog or it wasn’t a blog.

Today, the mood is changing.

Since I removed comments, other popular blogs including; copyblogger, Chris Brogan and Michael Hyatt, have done the same. And they’re absolutely right.

My point is that you need to question perceived wisdom. Then if you believe something needs to change, do it your way. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you — be prepared to lead. We need more leaders.

Shannon has comments enabled and she gets very little feedback. Many comments are from people trying to get backlinks or score free advice from her. This lack of so-called social proof, does nothing to enhance Shannon’s reputation. It also makes her blog look like a ghost town, when prospective clients check her out.

I didn’t fill the blog with affiliate links

When I recommend something to a reader, it’s a genuine recommendation and I don’t get a penny for it. The trust of my reader community is worth far more to me than affiliate money.

Shannon’s blog home page has affiliate banners for 3 products. None are related to her profession. It makes her site look cheap, which is toxic for a service provider.

I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords

Disrupt, ruckus, growth hacking, big data, intersection… buzzwords like those fail twice.

  • Firstly, they make informed people cringe.
  • Secondly, they confuse the uninformed. That’s a bad idea if you want people to understand your message!

Shannon’s blog uses lots of content marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.

I made 1 rule and stuck with it

I made a rule, which I have stuck to since summer 2008. It’s simply this

I will only publish a post when I have something useful to share and I’ll make sure I find something useful, often.

This means I often write when it’s easier not to. I update older posts daily, to keep the information relevant. Blogging is a primary business activity for me, rather than something I fit in. As a result, I write when I’m extremely busy, when I am tired and even when I’m not feeling great.

Your rules

The Internet is packed with sites that offer largely the same, general advice on how to build a successful blog.

Their advice seems to make sense, until you consider that by following it, you become invisible – lost in an ocean of millions of other bloggers using the same, general advice.

If you’re following what they say, you will be able to identify with Shannon’s situation.

In short: Your blog needs to be as individual as you are. Otherwise, you’re invisible.

Tip: This post asks an important question: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?

How to grow your business with Agile Thinking

agile thinking, advanced thinking

Business is changing. Moreover, business is changing fast!

This is great news for agile business owners, who embrace the opportunities. However, it’s not such great news for business owners who are working in today’s rapidly changing environment, with a 1995 approach to business.

In today’s post, I share some ideas on how you can benefit from the new opportunities around you. First, I’d like to demonstrate how things have changed and why we need to apply a new mindset, to the new landscape.

A new mindset for a new landscape

Many of the world’s most influential businesses were unknown 20 years ago. Some, such as Facebook and Twitter, weren’t founded until the mid 2000’s. That kind of global growth was previously unthinkable. What’s more, billion dollar companies that lead their industries have been started by relative unknowns, in very untraditional ways.

Here’s a great example. Writing in Techcrunch, Tom Goodwin summed up the new age of agile business:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

Tom is right. Something interesting is happening. None of those achievements or business models were possible until very recently. The game has changed. And it has changed for ever.

The age of agile business

When I look at small businesses, they tend to fall into one of the following 2 broad categories: They are either dinosaurs or agile progressives. That’s to say their approach to the agile business landscape means they are facing extinction or facing unparalleled success.

Armed with a laptop and an idea, there’s very little an agile business cannot achieve.

  • The new business landscape allows an agile small business owner to have an idea in the morning, and put that idea into play before the end of business that same day.
  • Using social networks, we can listen to what our marketplace wants and provide that want. No more guess work. You can get it right every time. And in a fraction of the time.
  • Instant access to data, means research that took weeks or months can now be done in days and at a fraction of the price.
  • With a great marketing email and some email software, a struggling business can generate a fortune in sales…  and fast!
  • With a blog and the correct strategy, anyone can develop their own reader community. I reach thousands of people every day, many of whom are prospective clients, without spending a penny on advertising or promotion.
  • If you have a great business idea, you no longer need a bank loan. Thanks to Indiegogo, Kickstarter and others, you can use crowdfunding and get exactly what you need.

In spite of all that potential, many small business owners operate their businesses with a 1995 mindset. They lack agility. This places them at a huge disadvantage.

  • They try and find customers for their products, instead of finding products for their customers.
  • They still take just as long to make a decision, even though they can get the feedback they need in a fraction of the time. As a result, their agile competitors have already eaten their lunch.
  • They use social networks to follow the crowd, rather than lead their marketplace.
  • They have a website that’s almost an online brochure, when they should have a site that’s a lead-generating machine.
  • They waste money advertising, when they should be building their own platform.
  • They waste time, money and energy attending networking groups, like it’s still 1980, rather than build their own audience or community.

In short: No matter what industry you are in. No matter where you are. Your potential right now is as limitless or limited as you choose.

Exposed: The great workaholic lie!

workaholic

Workaholics are not really workaholics.

It’s never work, which the so-called workaholic is addicted to. Instead, they’re hooked on the feelings that come from doing something they love. That passion and joy is what inspires them all day, every day.

When you do something you love, it’s natural to want to keep doing it.

  • It’s why Nile Rodgers still creates and performs.
  • It’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is still making movies.
  • It’s why Bill Gates is still making a difference.

ALL of those guys are in their 60’s. NONE of them need the money. What they do need, are the feelings associated with their “work”.

Conversely, someone who finds their work frustrating, boring or stressful, pays to go on vacation… to get away from work. They spend a tiny amount of time each year, doing what they love. They have the equation completely the wrong way around.

No one is addicted to meaningless work

If you get paid for doing what you love, you may be a passion-aholic. You could be a joy-aholic or even a pleasure-aholic. But you’re not a workaholic. No one is addicted to working, just for the sake of work.

  • Work without meaning is a way to pay the bills.
  • Work without meaning is empty.
  • Work without meaning leaves you doing things you don’t want to do, for the majority of your adult life.

If work feels like work for too many days in a row, switch sides. Join us!

Become a passion-aholic. Find what you love and make that your “work”. Transform your business from something you work in, to something that fills you with joy and passion… every day.

Can you do it? Yes, yes you can. I know because I’ve helped business owners worldwide to make it happen and experienced it in my own life since 1995. All you need is the right strategy and the courage to put it into place.

If you do that, I promise you will never work another day in your life.

Everything you need is within your reach

business development, business growth,

No matter what you want to achieve. No matter what situation you are in… everything you need is within your reach.

The books you need are within your reach

There are countless books, written by people who have overcome whatever challenges you are facing. Many of the classics are available for free online, such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

You can download a full, legal copy of the book using that link.

The ideas you need are within your reach

Great ideas are easier for you to access today than at any point in history. The Internet gives you instant access to insights from the greatest minds that have ever lived. And all without leaving your chair!

Careful research can lead you to a treasure trove of invaluable ideas, to inspire your creativity. The possibilities here are limitless.

The help you need is within your reach

If you have read the books, gathered the ideas and created something truly worth investing in, there is no shortage of people who can help you.

If you do something worth investing in, people will eagerly invest their time, energy and their money in you.

The expertise you need is within your reach

There are people, books, courses and audio programs within your reach, which can provide you with the expertise you need.

Oh… and if you think getting the expertise you need is expensive, wait until you see the price you will pay for ignoring it.

The key word in this blog post is reach

Whatever is holding you or your business back right now, can only do so if you allow it to. Those hurdles can be overcome, because everything you need is within your reach. The knowledge, contacts, investors, help and ideas are all there — but you need to reach for them.

Read the books, search for the ideas, seek out the people and get the expertise you need. Once you make that commitment and back it up with action, nothing can stop you. Nothing.

10 Daily decisions to help you reach your business goals

decision making, goal setting

Setting a goal is simply a statement of intent. Your daily actions are what make it happen!

I was thinking about that yesterday, when Susan from Queens, New York emailed me. She was wondering why she sets inspiring goals every year, yet by June the inspiration has faded and the goals are little more than a memory. She’s tired of living the same old year, over and over again.

As this is a very common challenge, I decided to share my answer with you, along with 10 small, daily decisions that will help you achieve your business goals. 

Why your BIG goals need a little help

Inspirational goals are BIG picture targets. This is what makes them so motivating. However, to achieve them, you need to focus your mind and efforts on small, daily decisions.

These decisions are what lead to the attainment of your big picture goals.

For example, here are 10 small, daily decisions that can help you grow a great business:

  1. The decision to care more about your clients, than you care about your fees.
  2. The decision to feed your mind with rich, mental protein. The business owner who knows the names of the judges on a TV talent show, but can’t name the 10 most influential people in their industry, sets a low bar on their potential.
  3. The decision to associate with great people, who will motivate you and encourage you.
  4. The decision to work when you’re at work AND to relax when it’s family and friends time. You are at your best when there’s a balance between work and play.
  5. The decision to offer exceptional customer service and exceed expectations, rather than do what’s required. In other words, out-care your competitors.
  6. The decision to place a huge value on your time.
  7. The decision to measure your progress every day. This allows you to quickly spot if you’re mistaking activity for productivity.
  8. The decision to avoid the costly detours, which come disguised as shortcuts to success.
  9. The decision to give your business the resources it needs. Cold Hard Fact: ANY area of your business that’s failing is only doing so because you’ve refused to invest correctly. You need to make better decisions than that if you want to survive, let alone thrive.
  10. The decision to focus on what you want [as entrepreneurs do], rather than focus on what you fear [as typical small business owners do].

Making it work for you

Those are all decisions that business owners are faced with daily. In the vast majority of cases, these decisions are made without them being a deliberate part of a specific goal. They are made in isolation, depending on what’s happening in that moment.

You need to be smarter than that, if you want to achieve the goals you have for your business. You need to be intentional.

So, set big, juicy goals that inspire you. Then map out the daily decisions you will need to make, in order to achieve them.

I hope you found this information useful. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to make better daily decisions.

To your success!

How to turn strangers into customers

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

Here’s an opportunity for you to gain a significant advantage over many, perhaps most, of your competitors. It’s about something I call attraction marketing.

I was prompted to write this after a business owner contacted me on Twitter. Within 5 minutes, he’d sent me several Direct Messages and then an email… each one asking me if I wanted to know about a business proposition.

The guy is a total stranger to me. All I know about him, is that he’s the kind of person who sends business proposals to strangers.

  • He could be a decent and honest man.
  • His business proposal could be genuinely valuable.
  • He may be scratching his head right now, wondering why no one is interested in his amazing idea.

The thing is, pestering people is extremely ineffective. It’s far more likely to damage his reputation, than it is to make anyone check out his business proposal.

More common than you may think

Whilst you may consider that guy’s approach to be a little extreme, many small business owners make the same kind of mistake with their marketing.

Here are a few common examples:

  • They pester us on social networks.
  • They fake interest in us at networking events, then hit us with a sales pitch.
  • They buy lists and send us spam marketing messages.
  • They add us to their newsletter list, without our consent.
  • They cold call us at work, when we’re busy.
  • They cold call us at home in the evenings, when we’re relaxing with family or friends.

Here’s the thing: Our prospective clients are programmed to ignore selfish requests, from people they don’t know. They actively avoid pests. Because of this, pests tend to get extremely poor results, which causes them to pester even more people, even harder.

If we, as legitimate business owners, adopt any of the pestering tactics used by those guys, we too will encounter the same resistance.

Thankfully, there’s zero need for you or me to pester anyone with our marketing.

Thankfully, we have a way to send people information they have asked us for, which is also commercially beneficial to us.

Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to do!

Smart entrepreneurs get it

The smartest entrepreneurs take a non pestering approach. It looks like this:

  • They focus on building relationships with people.
  • They strive to be useful.
  • They are all about bringing value.
  • They look for opportunities to earn [and re-earn] trust.

Once there’s a relationship in place and trust has been established, their messages will be welcomed. Their proposals will be taken seriously.

The marketing power of business blogging and newsletters

Business blogging is the most powerful tool I have ever known for small business owners. Newsletters come a very close second. Both are extremely powerful marketing tools. Each provide us with almost unlimited potential to reach targeted prospective clients or customers. They also allow us to earn the trust of our marketplace, as a recognised expert in our field. No pestering required!

Though you will need a strategy to make this work, the 130 feet view looks a little like this:

  • Produce useful information that’s targeted to the wants and needs of your ideal profile of client or customer.
  • Make sure there’s a short marketing message, like the one at the foot of this post, so interested people can get in touch with you when they need help.
  • Make your post or newsletter interesting and easy to read.
  • Do this regularly.
  • Soon, your first 5 readers will subscribe.
  • They will each get you 5 more.
  • This repeats over time.

Do it correctly and hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people, will eagerly want to hear what you have to say.

By showing up regularly you have demonstrated your knowledge and eagerness to help. You have also demonstrated your reliability. These combine to help you earn the trust of your readers.

Here’s why this is so valuable to you and your business: Your readers are just like you. They hire [and buy from] people they know, value and trust.

Note: Read this. It will help: 25 Reasons to Write a Business Blog

Attraction marketing

Regardless of the marketing tools a small business owner chooses to use, one thing remains the same. Pestering people for what you want is extremely ineffective. When people push their message at us, we push back. We block or mute their social networking accounts. We delete their emails unread, as soon as we see the sender’s name. We hang up the phone, as soon as we hear them start their pitch. We avoid them at networking events.

So, focus on attracting clients or customers, rather than pestering or pursuing them. Build a reputation, a big reputation, for your expertise and the contribution you make to your marketplace.

Oh, and make it easy for prospective clients or customers to contact you… because after you create an attraction marketing strategy, that’s exactly what they will do.

Is your marketing motivated by greed, need or deed?

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

You’re a wonderful person with a superb business. However, is that message coming across in your marketing?

Think about it — small business owners tend to market their services motivated by 1 of the following:

  1. Greed motivated: I want your money. Buy my stuff.
  2. Need motivated: I need you to buy from me because I’m in a tough financial situation. Please buy my stuff.
  3. Deed motivated: There’s something that I believe will help you, so I created it for you.

Greedy marketing turns people away. It’s ugly. It’s selfish. It’s an attribute that is universally disliked in people.

Needy marketing turns people away. It makes us panic. People are highly unlikely to risk hiring you or buying from you, if they believe you’re likely to go broke.

Deed driven marketing attracts people. Your message of contribution and service makes people feel good about you. It’s an easy message to connect with, believe and share.

Get your message across

Those of us who are deed driven need to make sure it’s clear for the marketplace to see. It needs to form the backbone of our marketing strategy.

It needs to be reflected in what we say and what we do, so here’s how to get that message across in your marketing.